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Mega-Church Moves to Local School on Easter

Bishop Andrew Merritt leads Detroit-based Straight Gate International Church into Orchard Lake Middle School for the first time on Sunday.

When he wrote his best-selling book My Faith is Taking Me Someplace, Bishop Andrew Merritt, pastor of Straight Gate International Church, was serious. On Easter Sunday, his belief that he has been called to plant a new church will be taking Bishop Merritt and his Detroit-based ministry to Oakland County.

After 33 years and eight expansions in Detroit, Bishop Merritt will open a West Bloomfield affiliate of Straight Gate International Church this Sunday at Orchard Lake Middle School.

Beginning this new ministry in a school rather than a grand church is a comfortable and familiar start for Merritt, a Bloomfield resident who has fond memories of when his children attended school there. This new beginning feels much like when Bishop Merritt and his wife, pastor Viveca Merritt began their ministry in 1978 in a humble storefront church in Detroit, with only three members.

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Today, the Merritts' ministry is classified by many as a mega-church because of the growth of their congregation to more than 5,000 members. The current Detroit location, at 10100 Grand River Ave., is a 165,000-square-foot building, a citidel for worshippers from around the region. It includes members from not only Detroit, but also Canada, Ohio, Macomb and Oakland counties.

"We are not trying to attract Christians who belong to another church," Merritt said. "We are not looking to transfer members of our existing church to this location. We truly believe there is an untouched harvest in Oakland County and our mission is to reach them - Christians and non-Christians alike."

Straight Gate West will open with a Resurrection Sunday Celebration inside , 6000 Orchard Lake Road, West Bloomfield. Services begin at 8 a.m., doors open at 7:30 a.m. For more information, visit straightgate.net

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